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A common link among fire, floods, food riots: extreme weather

September 8, 2010

Deadly riots in the streets of Mozambique over sharply higher food prices have left 13 dead. Anger is growing in Egypt and Serbia as well. Panicked Russian shoppers have cleared the shelves of staple grains. And the devastating floods that have left as many as 10  million Pakistanis homeless are also raising concerns about the country’s ability to feed itself.

A series of isolated disasters? Not… read more

A Company Looks to Wean Computers Off the Wires

September 19, 2005

Airgo Networks’ high-speed wireless networking system, True MIMO, operates at as much as 240 megabits a second, surpassing Wi-Fi and Ethenet rates.

It will allow for high-resolution digital video distribution in the home.

A ‘compound eye’ on light sent from galaxies 10 billion years ago

October 12, 2012

15711_VLT_alt_Iztok_Boncina_ESO

At ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile they are about to fit a new instrument called KMOS that can record the light from 24 galaxies simultaneously.

KMOS has 24 robotic arms tipped with gold-plated mirrors that can be trained on a different galaxy — each arm has almost 200 facets making them rather like an insect’s compound eye. Light from these mirrors is channelled… read more

A computational model of an anticancer nanoparticle

IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer uncovers a novel drug interaction site
September 7, 2012

ibm_nanoparticles_cancer

Researchers have used computational modeling to precisely simulate how a drug inhibits a target enzyme known to spur cancer’s spread, capturing the interaction at the quantum-mechanical level, Technology Review reports.

They hope their work will uncover a way to specifically inhibit members of a whole class of cancer-linked proteins without causing as many side effects as existing drugs.

The authors showed that a buckyball molecule, which… read more

A computational model of human tissue

April 9, 2012

brain_tissue

Computer scientists and biologists in the Data Science Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have uncovered a new computational model called “cell graphs” that links the structure of human tissue to its corresponding biological function.

The tool is a promising step in the effort to bring the power of computational science together with traditional biology to the fight against human diseases such as cancer.… read more

A computer interface that takes a load off your mind

May 14, 2012

A user tries the Brainput system (credit: Erin Treacy Solovey)

Postdoctoral MIT researcher Erin Treacy Solovey and her team have designed Brainput, a system using a headband that recognizes when a person’s workload is excessive and automatically modifies a computer interface to make it easier.

The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which senses brain activitythrough the skull (no electrodes neeed).

Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a… read more

A Computer That Has an Eye for Van Gogh

June 14, 2004

Researchers are developing pattern-analysis programs that can quickly examine hundreds of paintings to determine authenticity.

A computer-like brain mechanism that makes sense of novel situations

September 26, 2013

Indirection_glassbrain

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have demonstrated that our brains could process new situations by relying on a method similar to the “pointer” system used by computers.

Pointers are used to tell a computer where to look for information stored elsewhere in the system.

For the study, the research team relied on sentences with words used in unique ways to test the… read more

A computerized house that generates as much energy as it uses

NIST unveils net-zero energy residential test facility to improve testing of energy-efficient technologies
September 18, 2012

NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has unveiled a laboratory in the form of a typical suburban home, designed to demonstrate that a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

The two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath “Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility“ was built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum standards — the highest standard for sustainable… read more

A Computing Pioneer Has a New Idea

November 17, 2008

The Convey supercomputer, to be introduced this week, promises to be simpler to program, using Intel-based field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that can be reconfigured with different hardware “personalities” to compute problems for different industries, initially aiming at bioinformatics, computer-aided design, financial services and oil and gas exploration.

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego, believes that… read more

A conclusive test for ‘spooky action at distance’

January 19, 2012

belltestsetup

University of Vienna researchers have proposed  the first conclusive experimental test of “Bell’s theorem” (“Bell’s inequality”) — that measuring a particle can instantly influence another quantum-entangled particle arbitrarily far away.

The researchers say they have succeeded in devising a new “Bell test” (of this theorem), taking into account the decay property of high-energy particles systems, called kaon-antikaon systems.

This procedure ensures that the test is conclusive… read more

A Contact Lens for Lasers

July 29, 2008

Researchers at Harvard University and Hamamatsu Photonics have created a highly directional semiconductor laser that should–by averting light loss with a nano-patterned metal coating akin to a contact lens–enable highly sensitive portable chemical sensors and cheaper, more efficient optical communications.

A Conversation with Peter Thiel

March 26, 2012

Peter Thiel

Some comments by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, interviewed by author Francis Fukuyama:

  • I think there’s a close link between technological deceleration and increasing cynicism and pessimism about politics and economics.
  • We should debate whether it should be decentralized or centralized, but what the United States has today is an extremely big government, a quasi-socialist government, but without a five-year plan, with no plan whatsoever.
  • If there is going

read more

A cosmic factory for making building blocks of life

September 16, 2013

Comet_Hartley_2

Scientists have discovered a “cosmic factory” for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids.

The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced.

These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface.… read more

A cosmic illusion revealed

First example of strong gravitational lensing of a supernova
April 29, 2014

gravitational_lens

A team of researchers led by Robert Quimby at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) has announced the discovery of a galaxy that magnified a supernova thirtyfold via gravitational lensing. This is the first example of strong gravitational lensing of a supernova and confirms the team’s previous explanation for the unusual properties of this supernova.

The team has also shown… read more

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